Scheldt estuary research and consultancy

Proper management of the Scheldt estuary requires a proper understanding of how water, sand and sludge shape this transitional area between the river and sea. The Netherlands and Flanders have been working together since 2005 in the Flemish-Dutch Scheldt Commission (VNSC) on a sustainable and vigorous Scheldt estuary. The Flemish-Dutch estuary needs sound protection against storm tides, it needs to be kept accessible for shipping and to provide adequate opportunities for natural development. Since 2008, Deltares has been responsible for Dutch knowledge input. That means supplying the Dutch research and specialist advice for the VNSC. That knowledge is required for good collaboration in terms of policy and management.

Schelde estuarium uit brochure

Emphasis on tidal factors

Between 2011 and 2013, Deltares, together with other Flemish and Dutch researchers, conducted an extremely thorough study of the processes that shape the estuary. The result was a clearer picture of how water movement and the availability of sand and sludge determine the development of the estuary. This research programme – ‘Safety & Accessibility 2011-2013’ – analysed and corrected large amounts of past measurement data, and supplemented them with new measurements. The first step was to reformulate concrete questions from management agencies to produce a single coordinated programme. The main conclusion was that there should be a greater emphasis on the increasing influence of the tides.

Reports and recommendations available online

All the reports from the research programme are available online (in Dutch). There is also a brochure about the Scheldt estuary (also in Dutch). Deltares also produced other reports and recommendations relating to the Scheldt estuary, including research looking at the alternatives for the flooding of the Hertogin Hedwige polder.


The numerous reports and recommendations published in recent years also include:

  • Advice about continuing sand extraction in the estuary
  • Advice for the Dutch Delta Programme
  • Advice and research for the Flemish government relating to ongoing policy development for the coast and the estuary in the next century
  • Development of an evaluation method for the estuary as a whole
  • Report about the development of the secondary channels and how to take them into consideration in sediment management
  • Development of an estuary-wide model for the sludge regime
  • Dutch contribution to TIDE
  • Consultations and communications with stakeholder groups in an EU project in order to encourage greater collaboration
  • Specialist advice relating to planning and procedures associated with politically sensitive topics linked to nature restoration (Hedwige Polder).